Law – Copyrights Act 1957, amended in 2012

Ministry – Copyright Office, Ministry of Human Recourse Development

Copyright is a bundle of rights given by the law to the creators of literary, dramatic, musical and artistic works and the producers of cinematograph films and sound recordings. The rights provided under Copyright law include the rights of reproduction of the work, communication of the work to the public, adaptation of the work and translation of the work.

Copyrights of works of the countries mentioned in the International Copyright Order are protected in India, as if such works are Indian works. The term of copyright in a work shall not exceed that which is enjoyed by it in its country of origin.

Acquisition of copyright is automatic and it does not require any formality. Copyright comes into existence as soon as a work is created and no formality is required to be completed for acquiring copyright. However, certificate of registration of copyright and the entries made therein serve as prima facie evidence in a court of law with reference to dispute relating to ownership of copyright. Application for copyright can be filed in Copyright office.

Computer Software or programme can also be registered as a ‘literary work’. As per Copyright Act, 1957 “literary work” includes computer programmes, tables and compilations, including computer databases. ‘Source Code’ has also to be supplied along with the application for registration of copyright for software products.

The 2012 amendments make Indian Copyright Law compliant with the Internet Treaties – the WIPO Copyright Treaty (WCT) and WIPO Performances and Phonograms Treaty (WPPT).

  • Literary
  • Dramatic
  • Musical and
  • Artistic works
Lifetime of the author + sixty years from the beginning of the calendar year next following the year in which the author dies.
  • Anonymous and pseudonymous works
  • Posthumous work
  • Cinematograph films
  • Sound records
  • Government work
  • Public undertakings
  • International Agencies
  • photographs
Until sixty years from the beginning of the calendar years next following the year in which the work is first published


India has a very large copyright-based creative industry.   The Copyright Act is comprehensive and with the recent amendments, the rights of creators have been strengthened. India was the first country to ratify the Marrakesh Treaty 2013 for Access to copyright works for visually impaired persons. Enforcement in copyright has been significant and will be further reinforced. Judgments of Indian courts have adequately balanced the rights of copyright owners with the rights of the public. Moral rights are fully recognized.


The challenge in the future is the enforcement of copyright in digital platforms for which the statute has adequate provisions. Indian copyright owners are also victims of copyright violations and piracy. Apart from Copyrights Act, Information Technology Act, 2000 too has certain relevant provisions for copyright in electronics and digital field.

There have been disagreements over the question whether Softwares are eligible for copyrights or for patents. The Copyright Office recently held that softwares, if not in conjunction with novel hardware should be protected by copyright. This is a relief for the software industry as Copyrights are cheap, automatically recognised and protected for 60 years while patents are only for 20 years.